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Maritime Motivation: Jesus Castro ‘21    

May 11, 2021


Jesus Castro '21 is a Galveston native and Aggie by the Sea who will be graduating Friday, May 14 with a Master's in Maritime Administration & Logistics.

By Andréa Bolt, Communications Specialist, Division of Marketing & Communications

Galveston Island natives are known colloquially as “BOI,” or born on the island. The moniker has become endearing and prideful for those who can claim it and Jesus Castro, Jr. ‘21 proudly does.
 
The Maritime Business Administration major is looking forward to walking across the graduation stage Friday, but for now he can’t help but think of the journey it took to get him there.
 
“It honestly sounds kind of corny, but as a kid I remember going to the beach or looking out at the water and seeing the boats on the horizon. I always wondered where they were going, what they were carrying, so I feel like I always had an interest in the maritime industry even though I didn’t fully understand that’s what it was,” Castro explained.
 
As he grew into young adulthood, Castro said he took even more notice of how the port similarly grew. Still keeping a weather eye on the horizon, Castro also dove into the Texas A&M University at Galveston’s renowned Sea Camp and developed a greater understanding and appreciation for the island’s maritime industry.
 
As his Ball High School graduation came closer, Castro realized he needed to make a decision, but he felt hesitant. The maritime interest was still intact, but more on the back burner. Through his father’s career, Castro was familiar with engineering, but after attending a new student conference at the Galveston Campus, he knew the maritime world was still the ticket to the future he wanted.
 
Getting his foot in the door toward said future might’ve been a problem if not for Dr. Donna Lang, Texas A&M-Galveston’s associate vice president for academic operations. Castro said his then-high school counselor directed him to Lang, who played an integral role in helping Castro find the financial means to achieve his academic goals.
 
“I’m eternally grateful for her,” said Castro. “Dr. Lang helped secure the financial capability for me to be here. As the first person in my family to attend college, we didn’t know a lot in regard to scholarships or financial aid. She helped me find ways I could afford to be here.”
 
Still thinking about those ships, Castro chose to pursue maritime administration studies, opting for the 3+2 Maritime Business Administration program, earning him both B.S. in Maritime Administration and Master of Maritime Administration and Logistics in only five years.
 
Castro was excited. He felt at home in his academic choices, but something was missing.
 
“I was honestly really scared to get involved on campus. That’s not my personality, but I think I was intimidated. So when I found the Student Association of Latino Leaders (SALL) group on campus, it all came together. They gave me comfort and I knew I was home.” 

Castro posing for his Maroon Delegate head shot.
Castro posing for his Maroon Delegate head shot.


After joining SALL, it didn’t take long for Castro to gain confidence across campus.
 
From serving as an orientation leader, campus ambassador, working with Salt Camp, Coastal College Ministries, the Aggie Gentlemen’s Society (AGS), and as a highly-coveted Maroon Delegate, a student worker, Castro has nearly seen and done it all during his time as an Aggie by the Sea.

Even Texas A&M-Galveston Chief Operating Officer Col. Michael Fossum '80 took notice of Castro's impressive leadership skills when working alongside Castro during Big Event and during Castro's time as a student worker in the COO Office. 

"Jesus is such an incredible leader in many organizations across campus. He worked on my office staff for a year and was one of my ambassadors as a Maroon Delegate, where he engaged professionally with people ranging from governmental leaders to visiting families. I enjoyed joining his work crew during our Big Event this year and was impressed at how Jesus kept his team laughing and working hard to get it all done in spite of some frustrations," Fossum recalled. "Jesus is the epitome of our Aggie Core Values as he leads with integrity, pursues excellence in all he does, and actively seeks to serve and support others. To be honest, Jesus inspires me to strive to be a better person. I’m going to miss seeing his happy smile and hearing his booming voice on campus, but I'm excited for the future that lies ahead for him."

Even though Castro excelled academically, this part of his college experience was almost more important.
 
“I almost feel this is the true role of college. I am who I am today because of my involvement in all of these student organizations. I was able to learn how to build professional relationships and the confidence to be who I am. Don’t get me wrong, academics are crucial,” he says with a laugh, “But these people made me feel like I belonged here. And honestly, it’s bittersweet, knowing this is where I’ve thrived, and when I walk across that stage, it’s kind of back to square one. But you know what? I know I’ve got this now.”
 
Lang knew from the beginning that Castro would thrive on the Galveston Campus.
 
“Jesus is an exceptional young man that represents Galveston Island, Ball High School and now Texas A&M. I believe his work ethic and resiliency make him stand out. Every time he has faced a challenge, he has been willing to work through it. He is one that I know will go on to make the world a better place,” she said of Castro.
 
The thought is fitting and aligns with Castro’s mission statement, something he learned that is crucial in business.
 
His goal is to give underprivileged, underrepresented students the same opportunity and experience he had on the Galveston Campus.
 
So walking across the stage, thinking about the eight scholarships he earned himself and how his grandmother emigrated to the United States from Mexico decades prior to provide his family with as many opportunities for success as possible is going to be the “culmination of a dream.” 

Castro proudly wears his Hispanic heritage stole while posing for graduation photos on the Galveston Campus.
Castro proudly wears his Hispanic heritage stole while posing for graduation photos on the Galveston Campus.


“It’s going to represent a big ‘thank you’ from me to my family. My mom says ‘echale ganas,’ which means put effort into it. I’ll be the first one with bachelor’s and master’s in my family. I hope in turn to be that motivation for future generations in my family and for the people around me in my community,” Castro said.
 
After walking across the stage, Castro will head to Houston. He has been hired by leading product tanker shipping company Hafnia as their inaugural shipping trainee.
 
He never took his eye off the prize or the horizon.

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Media contact:
Andréa Bolt
Communications Specialist
a_bolt@tamug.edu



Texas A&M University at Galveston is an ocean-oriented branch campus of Texas A&M University which educates nearly 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students in a unique blend of marine and maritime programs, including majors in science, business, engineering, liberal arts, and transportation. It is driving the development of the blue economy in the Gulf Coast Region and is a critical contributor to Texas A&M’s sea-grant portion of Texas A&M’s rare land-, sea-, space-grant mission with nearly $10 million in research expenditures.
 
Texas A&M-Galveston is also home to the Texas A&M Maritime Academy, one of seven in the U.S. and the only academy integrated into a Tier 1 academic institution, which trains over 400 cadets annually for maritime service and employment around the world. Texas A&M-Galveston is ideally located in Galveston, Texas on the Gulf Coast where is it surrounded by the industry, environment and programs essential to fulfilling its special-purpose mission. Aggies are known for their deep commitment to the success of each other and their strong desire to serve.

If you are interested in supporting this endeavor or research, please contact the Texas A&M University at Galveston Office of Development by email at GiveToSeaAggies@txamfoundation.com or by calling (409) 740-4481.